Disclaimer: Mine, all mine. There is no Slave Lake WHL team. I made that up. The team, not the city. Slave Lake is a town in the province of Alberta. There is no team called the Slave Lake Pilots.
Summary: Can superstar junior hockey player, Gordie Smith, find love with shy, intelligent wallflower, Jamie Polanco? Or will outside forces try to keep them apart?
Notes: This is going to be my NaNoWriMo entry.
Chapter 1: Gordie
"Hey, Gordo, I think those chicks are checking you out."
I looked up from my spot on the old, splintered hockey bench, into the twinkling blue eyes of my best friend, Trent Walker. "What, Trent? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention," I said, nudging my best friend in the ribs. "What about what girls?"
Trent rolled his eyes at me and began to laugh, puffs of air blowing out cold, like clouds of steam. "Those chicks over there, sitting by the Pepsi sign." Trent motioned to two girls with the blade of his stick. "They've been checking you out all game long."
"I didn't notice. I've been too busy focusing on the game," I teased.
"Oh, whatever, Gordie. You can stop pretending to be the second coming of Gretzky, and pay attention to the girls some time." Trent grumbled at me, out of the corner of his mouth. "You're like, the stud of the team, and you never go out anymore."
"Sorry I don't live up to your standards of 'cool', Trent," I snorted.
"It's ok. I like ya anyway." Trent beamed.
"Smith! Walker! Quit gossiping like a couple girls and pay attention to the game!"
Trent and I both snapped to attention as the coach - and my dad - turned his steely gaze on the two of us, at the end of the bench.
"Sorry, Coach," Trent muttered, hanging his head in embarrassment at being reprimanded in front of his teammates.
"Sorry, Sir." I echoed.
My father nodded, gruffly, his long calloused fingers closed around his metal whistle. "Just don't let it happen again, boys. Save it for after the game."
After the game, which we won 5-2, Dad and I piled our equipment in to the back of the pickup truck.
"I'm going to hang out with Trent for a while, Dad," I said, rubbing my chapped, red hands and stuffing them into the pockets of my jacket. "I'll see you later?"
"Gord, you know I don't like you going out late at night," my father protested, sighing heavily. "You can't just blow off your responsibilities because - "
"I'll be home before midnight, ok Dad?" I said, before he could launch into another one of his tirades. "I promise, when I come home, I'll do my homework."
"What about practice?" he asked, arching a blond eyebrow at me.
"I can get up early tomorrow morning," I suggested. "Trent and I were going to go see a movie at the movie theater."
Dad sighed, running his fingers through his hair. "All right... Just as long as you come right home once the movie's over, and you do your homework."
"Thanks, Dad." I cuffed him on the shoulder and ran off in search of Trent.
Trent and his girlfriend, Heather, were waiting by his Jeep for me. "Hey, Gordo, change of plans."
"Change?" I asked, flicking my eyes at Heather briefly.
"Yeah. Heather got invited to this party, and I kinda want to go too. I have to make an appearance, you know?" Trent laughed, pulling a cigarette out of his wrinkled, foil pack. "I know how much you hate parties, but it wouldn't be so bad. Heather has a friend that she thinks you might like."
"Dude, you know I hate when you try to set me up with your loser friends," I said, glaring at Trent in mock-anger. "No offense, Heather."
Heather rubbed her hands together and blew on them, before shoving them into the pockets of her heavy winter coat. Both Heather and Trent's cheeks were red from the cold, and Heather looped her arm through his.
"She's really a nice girl," she said, resting her cheek on Trent's shoulder. "Despite what Trent might think, she is not a loser."
"She's not hot either," Trent laughed.
"Trent! Don't be so mean," Heather snapped, giving him a shove in the shoulder. "Jamie's a unique beauty. Girls don't have to be petite and blonde to be pretty, you know."
Trent laughed. "That's just how I like 'em, Heather."
I rolled my eyes at the happy couple. "Ok, I'll go. But once I start feeling like a third wheel, I'm outta there, ok guys?"
Trent and Heather shared knowing looks before nodding at me simultaneously.
The party was at the house of a player from another local team, but I was familiar with most of the guys on their team, so at least I knew some people I could hang with if this Jamie chick was too boring.
"Hey, Gordo, nice goal ya scored tonight." The other team's goalie greeted me with a wide grin and a plastic cup of beer. "You're livin' up to your namesake, aye?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm no Gordie Howe, Riley," I snorted, accepting the beer and taking a sip. "I'm not even Gordie Dwyer."
Riley began to laugh, loud grating brays. "Well, I bet you didn't take Howe's 9 by coincidence, eh Smith?" the goalie asked.
I rolled my eyes again. "I took number 9 'cause Modano wore it."
"Modano?" Riley exclaimed, in shock. "That pansy?"
"I'm just kidding, Ducharme," I snorted, downing some more of the beer, licking the foam off of my lips. "I'm a good Canadian boy at heart. You know me."
Ducharme shrugged. "Whatever, Gordie. You're the man, though. There's no way in hell Walker should be captain."
"Uh, you do forget that my dad is the coach, eh?" I said. "He'd never give me any special treatment."
"But unlike that bastard Walker, you actually deserve the captain's 'C'," the goalie slurred, his eyelids drooping a little. "Walker doesn't appreciate it."
Growing slightly uncomfortable, I just silenced Riley Ducharme with a nod, all the while scanning the crowd for Heather and Trent. "I see Trent and Heather, Ducharme. I'll catch ya later, aye?"
"Ok, Gordie. See ya." Riley wandered off, presumably in search of more beer, and I headed for Trent and Heather, who were on the other side of the crowded room, drinking beers.
"Jamie's here," Heather said, grinning at me and touching my wrist with the lip of her beer bottle, one arm folded under her small breasts. "She's looking for you."
I grumbled. "Jeeze, Heather, I don't even know this girl. What if she's totally psycho like the last one you tried to set me up with?" I reminded her.
Heather only laughed. "Gordie, Jamie is one of the most level headed people I've ever known! She's been my best friend since, like, forever!" she said, brushing her bouncy blonde curls out of her face. "She's so sweet and cute. You'll really like her."
I shot Trent a look. "Well?"
He shrugged. "She's not a total dog, if that's what you mean," he said.
"Where is she?" I asked, sidling up next to Heather and searching for her elusive friend, Jamie.
"She's right over there!" Heather's features brightened when she spotted her friend, and waved her arm. "Hey, Jamie! We're over here!" Heather motioned to Jamie to join us.
Now, Heather's friend Jamie was not what one would call a classic beauty. Her long brown hair was a little mousy, and her pale cheeks were dotted with freckles. She had to have been about my height, 5'9, and almost 160 pounds. She did have nice, clear blue eyes though, and when she spotted Trent and Heather, a big smile lit up her face.
"Hey, guys." She ran up to Heather and gave her a tight hug before stepping back, and studying me with her pale, crystalline blue eyes. "Hi, I'm Jamie. I don't believe we've met before."
I held out my hand to her. "I'm Gordie Smith. A teammate of Trent's."
Jamie's features immediately hardened at the mentioning of Trent's name. "Oh. How unfortunate for you. You seem like a nice guy," she said, shooting Trent a nasty glare. When he didn't react, she turned back to Heather and me. "I was at the game today. You had a really pretty behind-the-back pass to Javenson for the game winner."
"You're a fan?" I asked, smiling hopefully.
Jamie laughed. "Oh, gosh... I've been a hockey fan since I was in my mother's womb," she said, flipping her long hair behind her shoulders. "My dad played minor league hockey for the New York Rangers, at Binghamton. I was born with the love of hockey in my veins."
"Awesome," I said, slipping my hands into the pockets of my relaxed-fit jeans and leaning against the refreshment table. "What's your dad's name? Did he ever make it up to the Rangers?"
"Jim Polanco, and sadly, nope, he never made it," she said, shrugging. "He spent six years in Binghamton before retiring and coming back home to Slave Lake."
"Wow, he must've really loved the game to stick around in the AHL for so long," I exclaimed, hoping I wasn't sounding too much like an awestruck moron. Usually, it was the other way around.
Jamie smiled, her eyes crinkling in the corners, lighting up the room like Christmas lights. "He was. Actually, he still is," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "He, along with Trent's and Heather's dads are teammates on a 30-and-up beer league team. He just can't get enough hockey."
I smiled gregariously at her, offering her my best and brightest grin, the one all the pucks went for. "Would you like to go out some time, Jamie?" I asked, acting as demure as possible - which was pretty damn hard when people were calling you the Next One, heir apparent to Wayne Gretzky, and Gordie Howe jr.
Jamie arched an eyebrow at me, skepticism written in her eyes. "Oh? Like...a date?" she asked, softly, almost cautiously.
I nodded. "You seem like a really cool girl, Jamie Polanco... I'd like to get to know you a little better," I offered.
Jamie folded her arms across her chest and tilted her head to the side. "Hmmm... I dunno, Gordie Smith. I've had bad experiences in the past with Slave Lake junior hockey players... We'll see." She lowered her eyes from mine, her cheeks flushing bright red. "We'll see."